What makes this the best lentil soup? Let’s just say that everyone we’ve served it to immediately asks for the recipe…and seconds.

Best Lentil Soup

Are you on the lentil train? Lentils are low in calories, high in nutrition, and budget friendly. And, they make 40 times less greenhouse gases than a burger. Impressive, right? So here’s our favorite new way to eat them: our Best Ever Lentil Soup. Yes, Alex and I are pulling out the superlatives because this one is so delicious, you’ll feel like you’re wrapped in a cozy hug. Did we mention it’s a plant based dinner recipe, too? This vegan lentil soup is ready to amaze you.

Got an Instant Pot? Make this recipe using Instant Pot Lentil Soup

Why people love it

To make sure this really was the best lentil soup, we tested this recipe with a few of our readers. Luckily, this cozy soup went over better than expected with our real-life recipe testers! Here’s what they had to say:

  • “Made the soup last night. I loved the flavor. My husband said this could easily go into regular rotation at our house!” -Laura
  • “I made your Best Ever Lentil Soup and totally agree with the title of the recipe! Delicious!” -Sarah
Best damn lentil soup

What makes this the best lentil soup?

This vegan lentil soup is full of big flavor, despite being made only with plants. While some recipes rely on bacon or sausage to keep eaters coming back for more, this one does it without meat or dairy. Even our 2 year old was obsessed with this healthy recipe! Here are the tricks to making a lentil soup that’s irresistible:

Trick 1: Sauteed fennel brings a nuance in flavor.

Using fresh fennel along with the standard onion brings a smoky, nuanced undertone to this soup. Find fresh fennel in mainstream groceries in the produce section: it looks like a big onion with a fuzzy top. If you’re not sure how to chop this vegetable once you get it home, here’s how to cut fennel.

Trick 2: Fire-roasted tomatoes give tomato-y sweetness.

Fire roasted tomatoes are sweeter out of the can than standard tomatoes, which can have a bitter aftertaste. The tomatoes run the show here! If you can’t find them, grab the best quality canned tomatoes that you can.

Trick 3: Adding garlic at the end amps the flavor.

Garlic is usually added at the beginning of making a soup, when you’re sauteing the vegetables. Here you’ll throw in minced garlic at the end when the soup is done simmering. It adds even more flavor this way! You’ll let the soup stand for 5 minutes to infuse the garlic aroma.

Lentils nutrition

Lentils nutrition

Lentils are not only tasty: they’re full of nutrition benefits and are inexpensive to buy! So this lentil soup is not only good for your pocketbook, it’s healthy too. Here are a few of the major nutritional benefits of lentils:

  • Protein & Fiber: Lentils have a large amount of plant-based protein. 1 cup of cooked lentils has about 18 grams of protein and 15 grams of fiber. (Source)
  • Low in Fat & Calories: Lentils have virtually no saturated fat and are low in calories.
  • Protect Against Heart Disease: Lentils are rich in polyphenols, micronutrients thought to help protect against cardiovascular disease. (Source)

They’re good for the planet, too!

And just what do lentils have to do with the planet? More than you may think. A recent New York Times article covered Food and Climate Change and indicated that the world’s food system is responsible for about ¼ of the planet-warming greenhouse gases. The chart in the article shows the difference between beef and lentils (grouped under Beans). Beef accounts for 40 times more greenhouse gases than lentils.

If that’s not motivation to make our Best Lentil Soup once in a while…we’re not sure what is! If you need more ideas, some favorites are this Lentil Salad or Lentil Curry. Or, check out our Best Lentil Recipes or Top Vegan Recipes.

Lentil soup recipe
You can also make this one in a pressure cooker!

Lentil soup variations

Here are a few variations on lentil soup that you might enjoy:

Lentil soup recipe

What to serve with lentil soup

What to serve with this lentil soup? Just a soup does not a meal make! (Unless you eat a few servings, which we often do.) Here are a few things we’d serve with this soup:

This lentil soup recipe is…

Vegetarian, gluten-free, vegan, plant-based, and dairy-free.

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Lentil soup recipe

Best Ever Lentil Soup (No, Really)

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 6 1x


What makes this the best lentil soup? Let’s just say that everyone we’ve served it to immediately asks for the recipe…and seconds.


  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 1 fennel bulb
  • 2 large carrots
  • 1 clove garlic
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 ½ cups dry brown or green lentils
  • 28-ounce can diced fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 quart vegetable broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 3 cups baby spinach (or chopped standard spinach)


  1. Dice the onion. Dice the fennel. Peel and dice the carrots. Grate the garlic and set aside to stir in once the soup is cooked. (Got an Instant Pot? Go to Instant Pot Lentil Soup and continue at Step 2!)
  2. In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and fennel and saute for 6 to 7 minutes until translucent. Add the carrots, lentils, tomatoes, broth, water, salt, paprika, and oregano.
  3. Bring to a simmer. Simmer for 22 to 25 minutes until the lentils are tender.
  4. Stir in the spinach and grated garlic, and allow it to rest for 5 minutes before serving. Taste and season with additional salt and fresh ground pepper as necessary. Serve immediately. Stores refrigerated for up to 4 days and frozen for 3 to 4 months.
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Lentil soup, Best lentil soup, Lentil soup recipe, Lentil recipes

More with lentils

There are lots more lentil recipes that are a tasty way to incorporate this superfood into your diet. Here are a few you might enjoy:

  • French Lentil Salad It’s easy to make this unique variety of lentils taste incredible! This lentil salad features a Dijon dressing, shallots, goat cheese and fresh mint.
  • Hearty Lentil Stew Packed with hearty flavor and loaded with plant based protein: perfect for a simple lunch or dinner!
  • Seasoned Brown Lentils An easy lunch or dinner idea: lentils! This basic recipe makes perfectly seasoned lentils to eat as a fast meal, or use in tacos, salads, and more.
  • Masoor Dal (Indian Red Lentils) A spiced Indian lentil dish that’s equal parts flavorful and cozy; serve with rice or naan bread for dipping.

Last updated: January 2020

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you'll want to make again and again.

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  1. I love the basic recipe but I made this with no salt chicken broth and ended up adding 3 tsp. of Himalayan pink sea salt too give it flavor. I still found that there was “something missing”. I added 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar and let the flavors meld for 24 hours. It took it right over the top. With these minor adjustments I agree, it is the best darn lentil soup ever!

  2. Is it baby spinach leaves you stir through? Also – one clove of garlic doesn’t sound like much, do you think we could add extra or would it over power? Thanks!

    1. Hi! Yes, baby spinach leaves are perfect for this recipe. Since the garlic is just stirred in at the end, it lends a pretty strong flavor. You can always stir in a bit more if desired :)

  3. I made this and was delighted. It’s my favorite soup and this just took it up a notch. Excellent !! The fennel was delish in it.
    This is a keeper.

  4. So good! I love how the lentils and veggies don’t get too soft so there’s some bite to the soup. My whole fam loved it!

  5. Fennel had just gone out of season for me so I subbed with celery! I also opted out of the 1 cup of water when I saw how much broth there was. The consistency is a bit on the runny side and 25 minutes of simmering later, the carrots and onions were still crunchy. So I might let that cook for a bit longer next time, and perhaps add more lentils.

    Otherwise, good tip on the fire-roasted tomatoes! That really added an extra edge to this soup :)

    1. I agree with cooking about 10 minutes or so longer. I made it for the 1st time tonight and while the beans were okay, I’d cook it longer next time.

  6. Thank you so much for introducing me to bulb fennel and fire-roasted tomatoes. I’m just starting to transition to a Mediterranean diet and this was the first recipe I chose to make to further that goal. This recipe is a keeper! My husband and I loved it and found it flavorful and filling. My husband read the comments and saw the suggestion of the addition of red wine vinegar. He stirred in one-half tablespoonful into his second (!) individual serving and also gave that serving suggestion a big thumbs up. Thank you for making the first step in my journey to a healthier diet such a delightful one! Bon Appetiti!

    1. So glad you enjoyed! And yes, fennel has been to long overlooked in the produce aisle — it adds so much flavor :)

  7. You have some nice soup recipes but I think you have forgotten about a HUGE ingredient for most soups. Bay leaf!

    How did you miss that one. I made your tuscan bean last night and just remembered in time to add one.

    A bay leaf or two will give soups that extra layer that gives it that “simmered all day” flavor.

  8. Absolutely amazing! Just perfect as is, didn’t need to make any adjustments. I’ve made this soup a dozen times since I discovered it – definitely our go-to soup! I made it for my family and for my in-laws over Christmas and both have served it several times since. If it’s been more than a week since I last made it…my husband starts asking for it!

  9. Truly an excellent soup, The fire roasted tomatoes make ALL THE DIFFERENCE if you can find them bag them. I found mine at Trader Joe’s. I personally like using smoked paprika instead of sweet because it gives this underlying smoky ness flavor that compliments the tomatoes and lentils really well. Also added an extra garlic clove just to taste the punch a little more. Definitely would recommend cooking a tad longer maybe closer to 30-33 minutes, and definitely add salt and pepper after you add the garlic & spinach.

    Overall an excellent and quick recipe.

  10. This was absolutely delicious! Although would recommend cooking it 5-10 min longer.
    Subbed Swiss chard for spinach because we had it in the garden, adding it to the recipe earlier than you would spinach. Also used smoked paprika and it complimented the flavor well.

  11. This recipe is truly BEST EVER! I have made quite of lot of soups over the years & this one is my favorite. Easy to prepare & tastes good for leftovers. I wish my late husband were alive to have a bowl; lentil soup was his fave. Guess I’ll will eat his share. Thanks for sharing.

    1. It wouldn’t be quite the same, but it would be good! Add a teaspoon of dried fennel with the other spices (crush between your fingers when adding) .

  12. Hello Sonja & Alex,

    I am a big fan of your gluten-free recipes. Tried some of them at my home and my husband loves them a lot though he is not a big loved of gluten-free foods.

    Anyways, I have a question. Yesterday I went to a grocery shop near to my house. And noticed a product labeled as Non-Gluten. Is there any difference between non gluten and gluten-free products?


  13. I think this has potential to be a very flavorful soup. I do cook extensively and always bloom my spices in the cooking oil along with the vegetables and I didn’t do that here since I followed the recipe the first time. Additionally I’ll increase the garlic to 2-3 cloves as well and let it heat through with the fennel and onion and bloomed spices right before adding in all the liquid. Per some of the comments below I also found this quite lacking in salt since I use no salt added chicken broth and I ended up adding in two more teaspoons. I also added additional garlic powder as the garlic really did not permeate the dish at all. The spinach in the dish really is beautiful against the red of the paprika and tomatoes.

  14. Hi, looks like fresh dill on top in the photos, but recipe doesn’t call for fresh dill. Is that what it is? Thanks!

  15. This recipe was so good. My whole family loved it. We are doing our first ever Daniel Fast and this recipe was on point. My husband said it was very good, and even my picky 16 year old said it was good. We enjoyed it with pita bread. Thank you so much for posting this recipe.

  16. Wonderful soup! I didn’t have a fennel bulb so I used an apple instead but added some fennel seeds and it was delicious. Next time I’ll have a fennel bulb to use, but certainly a real keeper!

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